Notre Dame ACE Academy Schools in Tucson receive scholarship boost

Author: Bill Schmitt

Alliance for Catholic Education

More than 100 at-risk children will be able to attend Notre Dame ACE Academy (NDAA) schools in the south-side Tucson community thanks to a recent contribution of $100,000 from New York Life Insurance Company through Arizona’s corporate tax credit scholarship program.

The NDAA initiative is a comprehensive school support program of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), a University of Notre Dame-based movement that strengthens, sustains and transforms Catholic K-12 schools around the country.

In Arizona, insurance companies and C-corporations may receive a 100-percent tax credit when they contribute their state tax liability to certified scholarship granting organizations like the Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO) of the Diocese of Tucson. New York Life’s contribution to CTSO provides opportunities for disadvantaged children of low-income families to attend high-quality schools, including three NDAA schools in Tucson.

“New York Life is pleased to invest in our local community and to work with Notre Dame to strengthen educational opportunities in Tucson,” said Marc Braden, managing partner of New York Life’s Tucson General Office.

“This tax credit program has enabled an incredible partnership,” said Christian Dallavis, director of the NDAA initiative. “It allows a major national company like New York Life to invest in a community it serves while making it possible for the Notre Dame ACE Academies to put more at-risk kids on the path to college.”

Left to right: Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, CCFM; Mark Braden; Christian Dallavis

Notre Dame last week recognized leaders of the Tucson General Office of New York Life as “champions for educational opportunity.” Dallavis and Andrea Cisneros, assistant director of NDAA, presented a token of the University’s appreciation to Braden and Joe Casey, a 1979 Notre Dame graduate and Tucson-area New York Life agent. The NDAA leaders were joined in their statement of appreciation by the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Tucson, Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, CCFM.

The Arizona tax credit initiative was one of several education reform initiatives discussed during “The Conversation: Developing the Schools Our Children Deserve,” a panel presented at Notre Dame Sept. 28 as part of the 2011-12 Notre Dame Forum on K-12 education. The Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas, bishop of Tucson and a panel participant, said, “I think it’s wonderful that New York Life, a company that is literally in the business of risk management, is creating opportunities for at-risk children. In a very real way, this contribution is at the heart of both their mission and ours.”

The NDAA schools in Tucson – St. John the Evangelist, St. Ambrose and Santa Cruz Schools – took in 90 new families this year, though Dallavis pointed out, “There are still more children who want to attend these schools, and there aren’t enough scholarships to go around.” Notre Dame is working to secure additional tax credit contributions from other corporations and insurance companies that do business in Arizona.

Last fall, Bishop Kicanas invited Notre Dame to pioneer the NDAA model in Tucson. At these schools, Notre Dame faculty and staff support teachers and principals in every dimension of schooling, from classroom instruction to resource management to leadership development.

More information about the Notre Dame ACE Academies can be found here. Information about the Arizona tax credit program can be found here.

Contact: Bill Schmitt,, 574-631-3893

Originally published by Bill Schmitt at on September 30, 2011.